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Former Bitwise Leaders Make Court Appearance for Bond Review Hearing

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Bitwise Industries’ former CEOs appeared in a Fresno federal courtroom for a bond review hearing on Friday.

Jake Soberal and Irma Olguin Jr., mainly through their attorneys, went over the condition of their release with Magistrate Judge Barbara McAuliffe. The defendants only spoke, when acknowledging they understood the updated bond conditions.

McAuliffe mainly reviewed that all the proper paperwork was turned in. A few minor changes were made to the bond conditions.

Soberal and Olguin face one charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. A DOJ official, without specifically referring to the Bitwise case, said it was common for minimal charges in a criminal complaint as a “place holder” until a formal indictment is introduced. Charges could be added or changed.

The defendants pleaded not guilty at their initial Nov. 9 appearance. As conditions of being released on bond, both had to surrender passports, use their homes as collateral (in the case of Olguin, her mother’s home), and restrict travel to most of California and Oregon.

Soberal and Olguin will be under the supervision of the pretrial services division, a request that prosecutor Joe Barton clarified on Friday.

Pretrial Services Officer Ryan Beckwith told the judge that supervision was not necessary because of a lack of criminal history, lack of drug use, and the defendants’ record of stable employment.

However, the judge ordered supervision for now, and Soberal and Olguin had their first pretrial services meeting after the hearing.

Other minor changes to the conditions of Soberal and Olguin’s release were notifying pretrial services of any residency and phone number change and requesting permission to leave the restricted travel area.

Unlike their arraignment, there were few observers in the courtroom. Only one former Bitwise employee appeared. Sandi Olguin, Irma Olguin’s sister and also a former Bitwise employee, entered the courthouse with the defendants. A friend of Soberal also attended.

Both sides declined to comment after the hearing.

Irma Olguin Jr., her sister Sandi Olguin, and co-defendant Jake Soberal enter the Fresno federal courthouse. (GV Wire/David Taub)

Defendants Accused of Fraud

The 42-page complaint accused Soberal and Olguin of several instances of wrongdoing, from falsifying bank documents to lying to investors. The defendants allegedly told federal investigators of their schemes and said they were the only two conspiring in the plan.

Read all of GV Wire’s Bitwise coverage here.

Bitwise collapsed in June, firing its reported 900-member workforce and filing for bankruptcy. The former tech/real estate company faces several civil lawsuits.

Wednesday, both the prosecutors and defendants asked the court for a one-week delay to allow Soberal and Olguin’s attorneys more time “to gather remaining information and documentation to complete the property bond package.” McAuliffe denied the request later that day, keeping Friday’s date.

The pair return to court on Jan. 25, again in front of McAuliffe for a preliminary examination.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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